Saturday, January 28, 2012

One Year in Seattle

It's strange to think that we've been here in Seattle for an entire year already. I was looking back over some old posts the other day and the ones from when we first moved here seemed so long ago, but at the same time it feels like the year has passed by very quickly.

When we first moved here I was very discouraged by the difficulty of finding housing (this has got to be one of the worst tasks ever) and the drastic change from Indiana. I'd put down far more roots in Indiana than I ever imagined I would or than I had anywhere else we'd lived. I'd made some awesome friends, some of whom I got to work with in the local schools. I enjoyed the work I was doing, the book group I attended, and had even grown to appreciate the general area for the most part. Moving here, I no longer had a job, had to once again find new friends, basically didn't have much to do with my life, and had to get acclimated to living in a city after getting very used to less traffic, lower costs and other things that come with a more rural area. Ryan, being a student, didn't have the time to get as attached as I did, so I don't think the move was quite as difficult for him.

I still miss my friends (and job) from Indiana, but now that we've been here for a whole year I can say it's a good fit for us and I'm glad we're here. I love the neighborhood we live in. Evidence of this being that for the first time since we've been married I was able to return to my hometown without feeling sad that I wasn't living there. I love my hometown; it's beautiful and generally awesome and I enjoyed walking down Main Street again. But when it came time to leave I was equally happy to return to our neighborhood.

In the past year we've made some good friends and acquaintances here. It's nice to have a house with a yard (even if we are just renting still). We have easy access to the city and all that comes with that, but I often forget that we technically live in the city ourselves. We've spent some of the last year discovering the area, which is always fun. Ryan enjoys his work, Gareth loves his school, and I'm enjoying having more time to play my instrument again, rather than just teach. One definite bonus to Ryan not being in school anymore is that we have more time on the weekends to spend as a family. I feel comfortable and able to be myself here and have come to love living here and the prospect of sticking around this area for the foreseeable future.

This next year will be a busy one - adding another member to our family and Gareth starting Kindergarten being among the biggest events that I can think of (and maybe me starting back to school myself?). One thing I'd like to do better at is getting out of the house, hiking, and exploring. We tend to very easily get caught up in the minutiae of our day-to-day life and not take the time to check out our area, something I regretted from our time in Virginia and Indiana. So I'm determined that this next year we'll get out hiking a lot more in the many surrounding parks and take the time to check out some places like Theo Chocolate, The Museum of Communications, and maybe even get out to some further away places such as Leavenworth, as well as checking out more of the local restaurants and maybe attending a couple of plays or concerts. There's so much to do and see around here that it would be unfortunate if we didn't take advantage of it all. Hopefully we'll follow through on such plans and you'll get to read about more outings this next year!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Light Fabrics

Can I just say how much I love Gareth being in preschool and how it gives me three hours in the afternoon most days of the week to do whatever I want? Today is a gorgeous day here: the sun is shining, birds are chirping outside my house and it's warm. In theory, I could have walked Gareth to preschool and then continued on to the quilt shop from there, but I'm glad I didn't, especially since it didn't take me anywhere near three hours to select my fabrics. I wasn't looking at my dark and medium tones while pulling out bolts, but when I put them all together after I was done collecting I'd done quite a good job. I discarded a couple and with the help of an employee added another one and I was good to go!

So there's the last of the fabric for the quilt. Except for the backing and binding of course. I'm really interesting to see how this turns out once I cut everything into 7/8" strips. For instance, that grey on the top left will have some strips that are just grey, others that throw in some red and white. Cutting everything so small will mean the quilt will potentially look like it has more variety of colors/fabrics than it really does. Time to start cutting the dark strips and get this fabric washed!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gareth's Quilt

Remember how I was going to make a quilt for Gareth? And I'd even purchased half the fabric for it? I started washing the fabric, but then things like getting pregnant and feeling sick got in the way. And then by the time I was feeling better I had to make a Halloween costume. And then it was pretty much time for Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years and all that.

But I'm still planning on making a quilt for Gareth. And over the holidays I went with my mom to the quilt store and chose fabrics for the quilt she'll make for our new baby. Over the past couple weeks she's proceeded to tell me how she's finished washing the fabric and cutting out the pieces (not to mention taking the time to figure out how to re-size the quilt to a smaller baby size). And she's only had the fabric for a matter of weeks! I was feeling rather shameful that I'd had mine for months and hadn't done a thing with it. So during our snow week (yup, Gareth had not a single day of school last week) while I was not doing other things, like practicing and house cleaning, I finished washing the fabric and proceeded to start cutting it.

It will be a slow process since the blocks for this quilt are small - less than 4" finished. Which means I'm cutting center squares of 1 1/4" to start. And then strips of 7/8" (it's a log cabin quilt). But, despite my frequent breaks whenever my back and hips start to hurt, I think I've done fairly well at moving along.

That may not look like much, but there are over 300 squares there. Only a little over 100 to go! Of course, once I finish the squares I get the fun of cutting the strips. Oh, and this is only half of my fabric. I still have to go back for the light tones. My quilting store here is moving (thankfully they're just moving down the street a little way from where they are now, not across town or something!) and so I'm going to head over there this week during their moving sale to see if I can get some of what I need for a good deal. 

The goal is to get as much cut out as possible before the baby comes. If I can start piecing even better - I'll pay someone to do the quilting for me this time around. I'd like to have the whole thing done by the time Gareth starts Kindergarten, or at the latest by this next Christmas. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quinoa Again

Remember my post soliciting quinoa recipes a long while back? Well, my sister and her husband remembered that I'd been in need of some and gave me Quinoa 365 for Christmas. Last year we got a cookbook full of vegetarian recipes from another sister, which turned out to have many delicious and easy/quick recipes in it. This cookbook has so far proven equally successful (good job, siblings, on purchasing great cookbooks for us!)

I honestly had to limit myself when making up this month's menu, or else half of it would have been dishes from this cookbook. There are several great things about this that make it a useful book to have: several dishes have quinoa as their main ingredient, several dishes have quinoa as a secondary ingredient rather than a main ingredient, they have recipes in the back for baby food using quinoa (seriously, how awesome is that?!), they have some amazing looking desserts that use quinoa, some of which are gluten-free (I've become more aware of this as a couple parents in the preschool and Gareth's preschool teacher all eat gluten-free), and all the recipes I've tried so far are tasty and quick/easy.

This month we're trying three dinner dishes and a couple of breakfast dishes (on our weekend breakfasts). So far we've had Leek and Potato Soup (soups with milk in them often make my stomach very unhappy - this one didn't!), Black Bean Soup (I did have to increase the amount of liquid called for in this one, but it was easily done at the end and everything still tasted delicious), and Apple Strudel Cereal. Ryan and I liked the breakfast cereal, Gareth not so much. It is a little strange at first to be eating quinoa for breakfast, but after a few bites I got used to it and it was very tasty - basically just quinoa with raisins and dried apples and cinnamon mixed in while the quinoa cooks. Then once it's done you throw in some vanilla and a tiny bit of brown sugar if you want. Serve it with yogurt (I used Greek honey yogurt, Ryan tried the leftovers with plain yogurt) and toasted almonds on top. A great thing about eating quinoa for breakfast is that it keeps you full much longer than many other breakfast foods. I think we're going to be going through a lot of quinoa in the next few months...

On a less healthy note, if you want some delicious-looking recipes that are far more fattening, check out the "Daily Indulgence" at Not all of them are desserts, but most are. And most of them are very tempting. Good thing I don't usually have time to make dessert!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Day

We've had snow all weekend, but none of it stuck until yesterday (though friends further out did have a couple of inches stick). The schools opened late (not sure why) and then it started snowing, so they closed early. Gareth ran out to play in the snow yesterday, but came back in about five minutes later saying there wasn't enough to build a snowman with. And he was right - there was probably less than a quarter inch. A few hours later the sun came out and most of what had stuck melted.

But the snow started up again during the night and we woke up this morning to a couple of inches. Gareth was very excited to go out and help me shovel. Maybe one day he'll learn that the snow on the grass doesn't need shoveling and that we want to put shoveled snow on the grass areas, not the areas I already shoveled. Overall, he did a pretty decent job though. Then this afternoon we went outside and built his first snowman (well, I built it, but he did shovel some snow over to me once in a while and helped put in the stones for it's face and buttons). He really doesn't have mittens conducive to playing in snow, so it was best for me to do it anyway.

I couldn't be bothered to find sticks for arms. It's a pretty small snowman, but a good size for a little kid. I'd forgotten how exhausting making a snowman can be! At least we can make them here, though. In Indiana I could never get the snow to pack. Growing up I remember being able to make a small ball and then just roll it in the snow to make it larger. That method didn't work so well today, but maybe I'm just out of practice. Gareth was very pleased with it and didn't seem to notice that it has no arms, for which I was very grateful.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Holiday Puzzle

So here's our puzzle from the holidays this year, a Norwegian fjord:

We only started working on this on New Year's Eve, since we were out of town for the rest of the holidays. Ryan had to go back to work the next Tuesday, so this year's puzzle took us quite a bit longer than usual to finish. The lower left and upper right corners were the most difficult - I took to just sorting the pieces for the lower left by shape and at times figuring them out by the slow process of elimination.

We were given another puzzle this year as a present, which I'm excited to put together next year. This year's puzzle we purchased at a local toy store. Ryan was a little wary of the store as we pulled up because the entrance is rather run-down looking. But I assured him that I'd been inside before and that it was not as run-down on the inside. This toy store (and another one we've been in while here) have not only a great selection of toys, but also a great selection of puzzles, both for kids and adults. In previous places we've lived we've been stuck with big box stores like Walmart or Target (perhaps we just haven't found the local toy stores in our other locations?) where the puzzle selection is dismal. In past years we've walked out of the store very disappointed after poring over the selection for what feels like forever before settling on the one half-way decent puzzle we can find. But at this toy store I came back after a few minutes and Ryan had found this puzzle. We spent a few more minutes looking over them together and noticed several others that we'd enjoy and Ryan pointed out a large one that will be fun to do with Gareth when he's older. We managed to restrain ourselves to just the one puzzle for now, but it's great to know we have somewhere we can go to buy great puzzles for future years!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Difference of a Couple Years

I've always been a bit nervous about how Gareth would handle a sibling. He's been a very attention-demanding child from day one, constantly wanting 100% of any adult attention 100% of the time. He spent much of his baby and toddler-hood screaming if I ever gave my attention to anything other than him. Not exactly the temperament suited toward acceptance of an attention-demanding infant usurping his place. He seemed like the perfect candidate for enjoying being an only child.

But lately I've been feeling better about how he'll do. Oh, I'm sure he'll have his moments of annoyance with the baby. But I think, now that he's older, that he'll do much better than he would have a couple of years ago. He did quite well with his cousin over the holidays. And today we had Gareth's best friend and his friend's little brother over for the evening. Most of the time, Gareth and his friend successfully ignored the little brother who followed them around as best he could while they ran to and fro. But after I'd played peek-a-boo with the little boy a couple of times, Gareth decided it looked like fun. He managed to entertain the one-year-old for quite some time with this game, which enabled me to finish up dinner. Not only that, but at one point, after he'd gone off to play with his friend again and the baby wanted me to hold him, Gareth was more than happy to come entertain the baby while I opened the hot oven. How nice, to have a child who is capable of understanding why a crawling baby around a hot oven is not a good idea! Of course, the kids Gareth's been dealing with are all one - much more interesting than a newborn. But hopefully some of his willingness to help will remain, even if his interest in playing with his sibling doesn't.